Filling up on water at the
Aquaduct before heading out.
After a day of 110 degrees, 90
degrees feels pretty good as the
Well, we can't put it off any
longer. It's time to head out.
Still Day 32...
When evening came, we left our squatters' camp and attempted to find the start of our route across the desert.
When we had come over the hill from Lake Hughes, we could see our route through the desert clearly. There had been a number of twists and turns in the beginning of the route around the reservoir and we'd both attempted to memorize the path. Now that we were in the lowlands, the maze of dirt roads was confusing, but eventually, we found our way. The route directions said things like "there are big mean dogs in the area, apparently fenced." The word "apparently" bothered me.
We eventually made it out of the restricted area and proceeded to the aqueduct to pump water. You are allowed to go down to the aqueduct and fish, but there were numerous signs saying, "Don't go near the water", etc. We went right down the steep side and stood on the edge and pumped water. (My Dept. spends a lot of energy educating people-especially youngsters-about the dangers of canals with their slippery sides and now here I was climbing right inside. We took several pictures that can be used at the next water safety fair where we point to pictures and ask the kids "Safe or unsafe?")
We started our long walk at nearly 9 pm. It was about 90 degrees with a breeze and felt pretty good.
Our route for the most of the evening would be 170th Street. Just so you don't think we were walking through some thriving metropolis, there are not 170 streets out there or anything remotely close to that. I have no idea how or why they decided upon the names. 170th street is paved for much of the way, but is in the middle of nowhere-a lonely artery down the middle of the desert.
Early on, we kept passing properties with the big, mean, apparently fenced dogs. The dogs would repeatedly heave their large bodies against the flimsy fences. This was disturbing to watch, but a good incentive to step up the pace.
Night settled in, and soon we left human development behind as we walked further into the interior. The pink and gold desert had turned a soft blue and green and the air was pungent with the smell of the desert vegetation. It was very peaceful. Joshua trees stood like shadowy onlookers at the roadside, silently observing our progress.
The air continued to cool down to about 80 degrees and the breeze continued. Once into a rhythm, I found the walk to be one of the most enjoyable of the trip. True, my eyes could barely make out anything but the road ahead, but my other senses took over and I "saw" the trail in a completely new way-listening to the coyotes wail, smelling the smells, feeling the soft breeze on my skin.
The one thing you have to watch out for at night are rattlesnakes that like to lay on the warm road- a luxury after a hot day.
Cars rarely passed us and when they did approach, you could see them coming for miles. We decided to take a break around midnight. We made like snakes and lay on the road staring up at the stars. We found out why the snakes like it-the warm asphalt under you with the cool breeze above was close to heaven. The moon rose and hung on the edge of the desert, golden and beautiful.
We hiked on. Eventually, my eyes became heavy and I was nodding off while walking. We decided to sleep for a couple of hours and then continue. We threw the ground cloth a small distance from the roadside and stretched out on it fully clothed, using our packs for pillows. As we slept, every once in a while a semi would roar by from a nearby facility which made for a strange sleep.